Mountain Trip guide Jesse Wright called in on behalf of our May 21st West Buttress of Denali team. The team took advantage of nice conditions to carry loads of supplies up the steepest part of the West Buttress route to cache at an elevation of about 16,400′.
The crew departed camp early with backpacks full of food, fuel and other supplies that they will need at High Camp. They hiked up moderate sow slopes for roughly 1200′ before encountering “The Headwall.” Also known as “the fixed lines,” this 600′ stretch of snow and ice is the steepest section on the West Buttress climbing route. Averaging about 40 degrees, it is steeper than that at times. The climbers clipped themselves into fixed lines, ropes that are affixed to the ice at semi-regular intervals, with mechanical rope clamps known as ascenders. These devices grip the rope when weighted, providing security should anyone slip.
At the top of the fixed lines, the team climbed up another 200′ of fun ridge climbing to place their cache on a flat spot at about 16,400′. securing their supplies, they then descended back to the 14,200′ camp for the night. The guide team has a special treat for the climbers – cheese cake! They worked hard and by all accounts did great, so they earned tonight’s dessert!